Turning Point

Artist Name(s) Isabel Nolan
Artwork title Turning Point

A site-specific open form sculpture created for Terminal 2 in Dublin. The name was chosen because it suggests a moment in time, a potential turning point in innumerable personal stories.

Turning Point is c.8.7m high x 5.74m x 3.14m. It is made in mild steel, the surface of which was primed and painted. It is a symmetrical form comprised of arcs and ellipses.

Responding to an open-ended brief to make a proposal for the new terminal in Dublin Airport, I concentrated on making a work specific to one particular location. It is a central location, passed by arriving and departing passengers, and accessible to everyone. Visually the artwork connects several storeys of the building. It is sited directly below the glass backbone of the roof and so takes advantage of the natural light. The open form sculpture occupies the space without unduly blocking it. The shape and finish were carefully considered to ensure that it was utterly unlike the rest of the building whilst still complementing it. The colour was selected because it is an in-between yellow/orange and contrasts well with the building interior. I proposed this particular work, knowing that people walking through the space and moving between floors would see it. The sculpture looks markedly different depending on your viewpoint.

Conceptually I was interested in countering the functionality of the building, which I see as a machine of a kind, designed principally to channel people efficiently. I feel an artwork of this scale, that ‘takes on’ this space attests to the existence of other kinds of knowledge or values beyond the purely utilitarian. I settled on the title because it describes the work in a literal way, it marks a threshold in the terminal.  Moreover it suggests the work designates a moment in time too, a potential turning point in innumerable narratives.


Isabel Nolan is an artist based in Dublin. She works in a variety of media, producing sculptures paintings and fabric wall hangings. Her work has been shown extensively in group exhibitions including Ireland at Venice at the Venice Biennale, 2005. In recent years she has had solo shows in Tokyo, Dublin, Auckland and Glasgow. Forthcoming solo exhibitions will be held at The Model, Sligo and the Musée d’art moderne de Saint Etienne. Her work is held in several public and private collections in Ireland and abroad. Over the years Isabel has also written on the visual arts and currently she is teaching on the MA ACW at N.C.A.D. She is represented by Kerlin Gallery, Dublin. 

Commission Type Other state agency
Commissioner Name Dublin Airport Authority
Commissioning process A curated process
Project commission dates November 28, 2008 - October 29, 2010
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Other
Budget Range 150000 - 250000 euro
Project commission start date 28/11/2008
Project commission end date 29/10/2010
Location Level 20, Terminal 2, Dublin Airport
County Dublin
Website www.isabelnolan.com/projects_installations.html
Content contributor(s) Isabel Nolan
Relationship to project Artist 
Associated professionals / Specialists involved

The following does not include the many staff / professionals employed by the DAA who contributed to realizing this project.

The key people involved at my end were:

  • Commissioner: Ruairí Ó Cuív
  • Engineering: DPS Engineering & Construction, Co. Dublin
  • James Johnston with Kevin Dennehy and David McHugh.
  • Fabrication: Balzar Engineering Ltd (B & S Ironworks) 
  • Kevin Kenny and a great team too numerous to name.



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